Friday, February 10, 2012

The College Bubble: The Next One To Burst: The Burden of Student Loans

If you have not seen this video yet, please watch it, though it is long. It tells you how the whole MONEY-MAKING BUSINESS of the UNIVERSITIES and student loan market:  [cough..racket..cough] works.


When The Squawker was in college, she wondered why tuition was raised 8% every year. Why did the costs go so high, and who was making the money? Even knowing that her adjunct professors made so little even beyond the tenured folks, The Squawker remembers her time at her alma mater in the late 80s, wondering why new million dollar buildings were being built all over the place, knowing that held some responsibility for her growing almost too huge tuition bills.

Today I know that the tuition and other bills have literally tripled since those college days. Who can afford college without going into debt now? The "work your way through school" days are over and a pipe dream considering the costs. And if one had a job that paid well enough to cover the costs, they may as well keep that job and hedge their bets! I would not have gone to college again, and would have considered Vo-Ed a better bargain, but my high school days were filled with the message, "One must go to college, or else end up flipping burgers!".  College was enjoyable but not a worthwhile investment for the future. I ended up working at an Arby's anyway after college in between more middling jobs, so that was ironic.

Today I tell young people, unless you have the cash to get you through medical school or have highly prolific technical aptitude, rethink the automatic college course. Sadly too many high school guidance counselors are doing the "go to college" message without thinking of its implications.  Some are wisely asking "what are we getting for our money"? and others are asking "Is anyone learning anything"?

There are endless facets of my education I question, with too much emphasis being put on useless pieces of information. The sad fact of entering adult life with basically no practical skills, was the central problem. Maybe we should focus on having our young people learn how to "do" things rather then just memorizing a bunch of facts. That is one core component that is bringing failure in our education world. How many go to college to delay adulthood or to "have fun"? Why are our students spending more hours "partying" in some places rather then studying?

Outside of a few fields that take higher math skills and include labs, how much practical useful knowledge is being given in your average university? Sometimes I question the future of the university and colleges, with the Internet. One can look up everything online and we all have an "instant library" right here. For those who still love to learn, and have had the joys of learning things FREE, why pay people 50,000 a year, to spoon feed you the information?

In many ways college has been more about buying an expensive piece of paper to be able to enter certain doorways, then an actual test of knowledge. What happens to those who may have the minds, the intellect or the know-how, and still are cut off, simply because they do not have the money? Now we are seeing years long enslavement to student loans in our young people. Remember student loans cannot be discharged under bankruptcy like other debts. They are forever unless one becomes permanently disabled.

When people could get jobs paying off the student loans where the incomes matched the debt, perhaps there was some sense to borrowing a little bit to get through school. That is a crazy decision now however when middle aged people can barely find professional jobs or ones with a living wage or have seen their own employment prospects sent overseas. The young people are starting off with a stacked debt. Their futures sold out for greed. Some are even speaking of Generation Y as being a "lost generation". Generation X had it bad enough, but our crummy jobs could at least get one a small apt or rented room living out of milk crates, something is wrong when I am seeing 26 year old cousins, one with a college degree, stuck living with Mom and Dad.

Many blame the young people and say they were stupid, they majored in underwater basket weaving, etc...but I do not. I know how the system presents little options besides college or the military, people are even lied to about what skills are needed and the institutions, more focused on making money rather then preparing them for life, have failed them. So most decide to take the student loan spin of the roulette wheel even in mass unemployment thinking they will be one of the fortunate ones to get the great job right out of college. The only thing, is that too will come to a close as well very soon.

What will happen when people wake up, and trust me I am surprised it has taken this long, and ask, "Is it all worth it"? When college is no longer seen as "worth it" except in very few fields? When college enrollments will drop? Think about the jobs that will be lost then when the colleges can't keep their doors open anymore. With the student loans because young people are not getting jobs able to pay them off, nonetheless even support day to day life bills, the defaults are rising. Many are saying this is the next BUBBLE to BURST, and they are right. What happens when the college system collapses? I believe it's coming:

Student loan debt: The next financial disaster?

--The Squawker

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